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Cooking Party - Iron Chef Challenge (Secret Ingredient: Refreshing)

I've been invited to a cooking party this weekend, and to make things interesting, the hosts have decided to turn it into a friendly competition. It's an Iron Chef Challenge, and the secret ingredient is refreshing. While it's ambiguous ingredient/inspiration, I find myself at a loss. I have no idea what I'm going to make. Please, I need tips, advice, etc. Ideally, I would like a dish that's not complicated, and can be easily taught to the group (that's a component of the challenge, too...so we can learn from each other).

Thank in advance!

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  1. I don't understand, or I'm a dolt (which is highly possible)--what do you mean by refreshing? I think of leftovers. Translation?

    1 Reply
    1. re: pine time

      I believe that it's more inspiration than an ingredient. Outside of that, I can't think of any other explanation.

    2. I would think something with a light texture (not greasy or heavy) and acidic notes would fit the bill. Something with lemon and herbs, maybe something cool. I'd pick a favorite summer recipe, something like a light salad with grilled meats and a lemon vinaigrette, or maybe a dip or spread made with yogurt, for the tangy fresh taste.

      2 Replies
      1. re: sarahjay

        a salad made of watermelon, tomatoes, basil/mint, and feta

        1. re: sarahjay

          I agree. Cucumber salad in summer is the most *refreshing* in my cooking arsenal.

        2. That sounds like fun, attran99!

          When I think of refreshing, I think of granitas, sorbets, and cold soups. Can it be any course? If dessert, that's easy. We just had brunch at a place up here in SaMo Place and the dessert was super cool & refreshing - panna cotta with strawberry-orange-sake salsa, and I believe the sake was made into a gelatin w/ some strawberry or red juice from the fruit, it was incredibly light and refreshing, the whole bit. Really lovely with impressive presentation.

          A blender gazpacho could be refreshing. So can a vodka tonic ;p)).

          5 Replies
          1. re: Phurstluv

            Thanks, Phurstluv!
            Yes, it can be any course...I agree...desserts, drinks, and salads are the easiest route to this challenge. That panna cotta sounds amazing, but perhaps maybe too many components for this event...I have to teach the guests how to make it in a demonstration, too.
            I'm liking your gazpacho idea. Got any recipes in mind to suggest? I think a granita or sorbet might be too obvious...I need points for originality, too :)
            However, I would probably win by default if I whipped up some sangria and vodka tonics!

            1. re: attran99

              I don't have a gazpacho recipe, since I don't eat it. But I'm sure you can find one easily that would suit your tastes.

              I don't even want to show you the picture of the dessert, then you'll be mad cuz you'll want to make it, but I think you're right, too many complicated components to that dish to demonstrate. But panna cotta by itself is pretty refreshing and easy to make, it's essentially an Italian milk pudding that can be made with a number of ingredients. And you're right, a sorbet or granita is too obvious. Let me go slice & clean my leeks and get back to you if I think of anything else!

              1. re: Phurstluv

                First thought was Gazpacho, my recipe is not blended. If interested let me know.

                1. re: JEN10

                  I've never heard of an unblended gazpacho. Please feel free to share the recipe. You might end up teaching us all something new :) Thanks!

                  1. re: attran99

                    GAZPACHO

                    3/4 C. FRESH LEMON JUICE

                    4 MED. TOMATOES CHOPPED

                    3 SMALL BELL PEPPERS DICED

                    1 ENGLISH CUCUMBER DICED

                    1 MED RED ONION DICED

                    1/2 C. CHOPPED PARSLEY

                    2 CLOVES GARLIC MINCED

                    2. C. BEEF BROTH/BULLION

                    1 T. SALT

                    1/2 TSP FRESH GROUND PEPPER

                    1/2 - 1 TSP. CAYENE PEPPER

                    1 TSP SWEET PAPRIKA

                    3/4 C. EVOO

                    COMBINE ALL ING., CHILL FOR SEVERAL HOURS

                    I LIKE TOSERVE THIS WITH A NICE CRISPY BREAD AND SOME GRILLED SHRIMP

          2. When I think of refreshing, cucumbers and watermelon always come to mind. So do super fresh raw oysters...

            Maybe some oysters on the half-shell with a shallot/cucumber/ponzu mignonette?

            3 Replies
            1. re: inaplasticcup

              While oysters would be great...I've never shucked an oyster before. And from the carnage that I've seen on Top Chef, et. al. I think I'm going to not brave that this time around. I do love the idea...if it were on a restaurant menu, I'd order that in a heartbeat.

              1. re: attran99

                LOL. You're probably wise not to. A friend once lost part of the pad of her index finger shucking oysters. We were really young at the time, so luckily it grew back to where you really couldn't tell unless you looked hard. :|

                1. re: attran99

                  How funny...guess it depends how you come up ...here in the coastal South all the kiddos shuck thier own oysters.

              2. I like the gazpacho idea...

                What about Ceviche?

                5 Replies
                  1. re: inaplasticcup

                    Please point me to a recipe if you have one. I've never made ceviche before.

                    1. re: attran99

                      Ceviche is usually some protein from the water, mixed with any number of raw veg combinations but usually minimally onions and tomatoes, and cooked in the acid of whatever citrus juice(s) you're using. But here's a recipe from Rick Bayless using cooked shrimp, which I think is a good idea on your first go round with it. His recipes are usually pretty tasty.

                      http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                      And if you fried up some corn tortilla chips to scoop up the ceviche, your friends will probably love it. :)

                      1. re: attran99

                        cooks illustrated has a very simple ceviche recipe:
                        http://www.cooksillustrated.com/recip...

                        This one is also very good:
                        http://noblepig.com/2011/03/02/cevich...
                        ...though not the real deal since I think they say to cook the seafood... I'd go with Cooks, myself

                        1. re: attran99

                          I look forward to reading the recipes in the morning! Thanks for your helpful tips!